Field Research Technician

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Mount Allison University Published: May 11, 2018
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Hours per week
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Shortnose sturgeon  (Acipenser brevirostrum) is listed as an endangered species in the United States and a “Species of Special Concern” in Canada (COSEWIC).  The Saint John River system is the only location that shortnose sturgeon occurs in Canada.  The last population census was done in the 1970’s. To evaluate its current status and develop protection and/or recovery plans we need to define the distribution, habitat utilization and abundance in the lower Saint John River. We have previously found and described a major overwintering area in the Kennebecasis, a major tributary of the Saint John River. However, there are other potential areas that they could aggregate and overwinter within the Lower Saint John River. We will take a combined field and modeling study to find and determine population size at other overwintering locations. We will tag shortnose sturgeon with ultrasonic tags and track them throughout the year. Remote receivers (VR2Ws) will be deployed throughout the river system to allow us to passively track tagged fish. Uploading data from these strategically deployed receivers will allow us to determine what sections of the river we need to focus our active tracking efforts. We will also use side-scan sonar system to help map the river bottom to define habitat use. When the overwintering location(s) has/have been identified we will use both side imaging sonar and an underwater camera system equipped with lasers to count and measure shortnose sturgeon. The distribution of the fish will be mapped and then modeled to determine habitat use and abundance of shortnose sturgeon in the Saint John River.

Duties and responsibilities

The technician will be responsible for: 1) upkeep and maintenance of our watercraft (boats, Argo amphibious vehicle and hovercraft); 2) piloting and navigation of our watercraft; 3) uploading of remote receivers; 4) data collation of receiver logs; 5) side-imaging sonar of river bottom; 6) generation of maps of habitat type based on side-imaging (Reef Master 2.0 and SONAR TRX); and 7) deployment and use of underwater camera gear to determine species identification.

Knowledge and skills

We are looking for candidates with experience in piloting watercraft, navigation, side imaging and mapping. Experience with computer programming, GIS and mapping is very important to this position. The successful candidate will need to be able to work as a member of a team. The intern will be trained to collate data, analyze tracking data, use of the statistical program R, fish net deployment, fish handling and sampling.

The goal of this internship is to provide the candidate with experiences pertinent to conservation. It is our hope that this opportunity will provide the experience and networking to allow the candidate further opportunities in conservation related jobs or graduate school.

Education required

B.Sc. in Computer Science or Biology.

Certification required

  1. Boat operators licence.
  2. Driver's licence.
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